When planning a new website project, most people rely on a web agency for implementing their ideas. But how do you choose the right agency? Which criteria should you take a look at? The following article gives you a guideline.
When choosing an agency, one of the first decisions you have to take should be whether you are striving for long-term commitment or a quick “fire-and-forget” campaign page. For the latter you have to be much less restrictive in your choice, as a wrong decision can be corrected quickly. If your project is expected to last longer - or you don’t want to switch your agency after every quick job - you will have to be more careful.
If you consider choosing a new partner for your web projects, take a look at previous projects they have done. Are you happy with what you see? Look at case studies, qualifications and certifications. Are they proud of their work? If possible, talk to their clients or read testimonials.
Nobody knows your business like you do.
Ideally, the web agency you choose does not only provide high-quality technical solutions but also understands how your business works. Whether you are in e-commerce, tourism, industry or finance (to name a few), your business will have its own rules and regulations. If possible choose an agency that has worked with similar clients before as the ramp-up time to get a common understanding of the goals will be shorter. Independent from the agency’s prior knowledge you should be prepared to kick-off your project with a workshop, not only explaining the technical scope but also the why and what of your business. Web agencies have experts for web solutions - you have experts for your business. Being on the same page will ensure your project will have the biggest possible impact.
Depending on the project type and how your own business is run, you should think about whether you need your agency to be located close to you. If your teams are not used to remote work but you want a close connection between them and your agency, you should uses a local agency. If you have a finished concept and maybe even a finished design that only needs to be implemented, however, distance is mostly not a factor. The agile movement acknowledges, the best projects are done by working closely together, by frequently deciding on the direction and details together, by optimizing workflows and specifications constantly. If you are prepared to do agile projects - with one or more of your employees being part of that team constantly - you should think about co-locating the team in one place.
Another thing to consider when choosing an agency is the size of the project you want to start. Size is not only about business, but also about the time frame in which it needs to be done. If you have a bigger website and want to have a complete relaunch done in two months, you need a well-established team to do it. If there is no time limit on the relaunch you might do it with one or two people. If you already have a budget and a time frame for a project you can calculate how many people you need to get an idea about the size of the necessary team. Depending on what your project entails, you have to choose whether you only need development power or need more - for example online marketing people or designers. If the latter is the case you are likely looking for a full-service agency, if the former applies, look for a development partner.
While you might be tempted to choose the agency offering the best price, you should stop and think what you know about them. A good agency relationship built on trust and understanding will be greatly beneficial for all projects you do together. They will go the extra mile, notify you if they think you are heading in the wrong direction and they will be as interested in your project’s success as you are.
In the end the choice is yours. For most software systems there are helpful websites with partner listings, case studies and the like, that you can base your decisions on. It’s up to you to weigh the criteria and decide on the most important ones.